How to Store Meats / Seafood

How much meats/seafood has you bought from Facebook Live or your neighbour pasar? A LOT right? You definitely don’t want those meat to goes bad before you have the chance of cooking and eating it. 

At this post here, we will talk about methods to store your meats/seafood properly, how long it can or should be kept. We will share the few common methods that we have been using, which method is better and why we should or should not use that method.

 

How should we properly store meats or seafood?

We are often asked, ‘How to store meats/seafood that I bought from you when I reach home later’
Or ‘I am planning to eat this next Christmas / ThanksGiving / Deepavali / Chinese New Year etc etc, should I put in chiller or freezer?

 

Where should you keep your meats? Chiller or freezer?

Here is a quick breakdown / easy decision making flow for you.
Assuming that you bought the meat from a place that properly vacuumed pack it, the meat is in chilled (aka fresh) condition.

Ask yourself this question;

1. When are you going to cook it?
A. Within 72 hours
B. Sometimes next week
C. I don’t know man

If your answer is

A. Store it in your chiller.
B. Freeze it up right away, thaw it a night before the day you planned to cook it.
C. Freeze it ASAP, it is much safer.

Okay, so you get the rough idea of where to keep your meats. Now, let’s talk about WHAT can be kept for HOW LONG and WHERE / HOW should be kept.

But, before we continue, let’s get into the same page;

Chiller = The big section/compartment that we put our fresh vegetable, fresh fruits, chili sauce, milk, chocolates, super glue etc etc
Freezer = The smaller section/compartment that are spewing out cold air, where our mom usually wrap stuff in newspaper and throw it in there for years.

We good here?

 

How long can we keep our meats / seafood in chiller or freezer?

If you have been listening to our friendly fishmongers’ advice or some Facebook online seller, they will just tell you, put it in the freezer for X years also it will taste as good. Is that the truth?

If you refer to US Government Food Safety website guide (https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts)

FDA food list

They says that most fresh meats; steaks, chops, roast be it pork ,veal, beef or lamb) are good up to 5 days (in chiller) or a maximum of 12 months in the freezer. 

But you know la, we Asian mah, personally, I have tried some meats/seafood that were deep frozen for 1 year plus (frozen at peak condition), honestly can’t tell the difference.

 

What temperature should my chiller or freezer be?

For chiller, the most optimum, perfect, ‘bestest’ temperature should be between 0-4 degree celcius [32F to 40F]
This is the ‘safe zone’ that slows down the growth of most bacteria. If your house fridge are way above 4°C, please make sure to repair/change it.

Generally, for FRESH steak/chops/fish fillet that are vacuumed pack at it’s peak condition (right after being cut/portioned), it is pretty safe to keep it for 3-5 days in a chiller.
For minced/ground meat or burger patties, it is best to be consumed within 2 days. Don’t keep it chilled for anytime more than 2 days.

 

What about the freezer? What is the best temp and how long can I dump my food in there?

-18 degree celcius
Repeat, -18°C, IF you seriously would like to keep your frozen food safe.

 

chest freezer

Get a dedicated chest freezer

A dedicated standalone freezer are recommended as we don't open it as often like we does with our home fridge, thus keeping the internal temperature cool and stable. Try to keep as many items as possible in the freezer as possible (or get a small freezer 100L instead of a huge 800L freezer). Basically, it is science, more items = less air circulating = coldness last longer = item will be colder = things last longer

 

According to FoodSafety.gov (USA), some of the ‘fresh’ meat can be kept up to 1 year in freezer, but we would recommended to just stock enough items for 1-2 months.

The same principle of FREEZE AT PEAK CONDITION applies, beware of food stuff that has been chilled for days before being frozen, those are not PEAK CONDITION. Once again, know who your seller are. Don’t just go for cheaper option and to REGRET it later.

 

How to package/wrap/keep our meats for storage purpose.

Please do not just dump the whole thing in fridge/freezer without any ‘protection’.
First, you do not want any chance of cross contamination (this germ from this meat moves to another meat)
Second, if we want to ‘store’ it, obviously, we want to store it as long as possible and preserves the quality right?

There are a few options on what we can use to wrap the meats;

NEWSPAPER

Erm, can someone tell me if newspaper are food grade?
No? Ok, then let’s forget this old school method.

 

BUTCHER PAPER (FREEZER PAPER)

It is kinda rare to see it in Malaysia (honestly), if it is wrapped and sealed properly, it is good to be in the fridge for few days. As for freezer paper, it is almost the same thing but with a layer of plastic at one side to lock out moisture.

FREEZER BAG

(GOOGLE IMAGE RESULT SAMPLE)

I think most of us know what is a freezer bag, (the zip loc bag, transparent color bag) probably seen it at places like Mr DIY / Daiso / RM3 Shop etc etc.
This is one of the better option of storing your meats, make sure to push out as much air as possible before dumping it into your chiller or freezer.

tapao box
PLASTIC BOX, CONTAINER BOX (TA-PAO BOX)

As a temporary storage for chiller use, yeah, these guys seems to work great. You can close the lid, making it air tight, you can store liquid or solids in it. Hey, it is the perfect storage method!! BUT, if you were to freeze it, those flimsy plastic will most probably break after a while. And sometimes the lid don't seal/close perfectly thus making it 'not-so-air-tight'. Not a so-good choice if you need to freeze it. BUT yeah, we know a lot people are selling frozen stuffs in these boxes.

VACUUM BAG N MACHINE
VACUUM BAG / NYLON BAG

Now, this is the real deal. Be it freezing/chiller use, vacuum packing gives the best result (though there are some constrain to it)
A thicker PE, food safe nylon bag is a better choice. (there are CHEAPER 'vacuum plastic bag' but those thin, cheap, 'vacuum bag' are prone to 'breaking' when frozen) Those thicker nylon bag can also be use for sous vide or microwave as well (kindly check with your seller if the bag they use are good that), it's thicker material also reduce the chances it will become brittle and break after freezing for a certain time period. Vacuum packing also removes most of the air in the package, which GREATLY helps in preserving freshness of your meat/seafood.

But there are some limitation to it, most home use model has size limitation, you can’t really store a whole block of 4-5kg meats easily. It is recommended to break down your meats to serving size before freezing, it makes the whole world a brighter place, believe us.

 

Long story short; 

  • VACUUMED PACK (with thick nylon bag), FRESH, meats/seafood can be safely kept in chiller of 0-4 degree celcius for 2-5 days without much issue.
  • VACUUMED PACK (with thick nylon bag), frozen at it’s peak, meats/seafood are good in freezer for months, check for freezer burn or signs of deterioration after defrost before consuming (if it has been in the freezer for a long time).
  • Best to have standalone freezer if you love keeping lots of frozen food.
  • Pack your food item with appropriate packaging to keep it longer.
  • Avoid cross contamination 
  • Keep your freezer as full as possible for it’s optimal working condition.
  • IF electricity “kaput” (no electricity), DO NOT OPEN YOUR FREEZER OR FRIDGE DOOR FOR NO REASON

 

Have a good method of storing meats/seafood for a loooooooooooooooooooong time?

Let us know, hello@buymeats.com.my

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